WhenSunday, March 3, 2013
Sponsored ByTMS Extraction & Processing Division and the TMS Light Metals Division
InstructorAdam C. Powell, IV, Metal Oxygen Separation Technologies, Inc.


Course Registration Fees* (Advance Rates Valid through February 1, 2013)

Advance Member: $525
Advance Nonmember: $575
Late/onsite Member: $600
Late/onsite Nonmember: $650
* Registration fee includes continental breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon coffee breaks, and course notes.


This course will cover the basics of modeling transport-limited electrodeposition, including fluid dynamics, for materials processes from molten salt electrolysis to electrorefining to electroplating. The focus will be on predicting the variation in deposition rate over the cathode as a function of geometry and process parameters.

The first half of the course will cover fundamentals, including electromigration, diffusion and convection in the electrolyte, Butler-Volmer charge transfer resistance at the cathode interface, and resistance in the electrodes themselves. Attendees will learn basic scaling rules and analytical calculations, including important dimensionless groups, which enable simple and powerful assessments of importance of transport mechanisms, rate-limiting steps, and deposition uniformity. Very often, problem solving ends here.

For those situations where analytical calculations leave questions unanswered, attendees in the second half will receive hands-on training in finite element analysis (FEA) including basics of fluid flow and heat transfer. This part of the course will use an FEA suite called Elmer, which is Open Source and cross-platform (Windows, Linux, Mac). Participants are encouraged to bring geometries of parts and electrode leads for electroplating, or electrorefining anodes/cathodes, with which to generate electrolyte geometries in the STEP or IGES CAD formats.

Given the time limitation, the FEA component of this course will not cover: turbulent fluid flow, nonlinear charge transfer resistance, complicated chemical phenomena including ion complexes, effects of brightening/leveling agents, or dynamic geometries such as Hall-Héroult Cell graphite anode shape evolution.

Topical Outline:
  • Fundamentals of Electrodeposition
  • Basic phenomena
  • Electromigration and diffusion
  • Heat and mass transfer: boundary layers and transfer coefficients
  • Forced and natural convection
  • Charge transfer and mass transfer kinetics
  • Comparisons between phenomena and simplifying assumptions
  • Introduction to dimensionless groups
  • Biot, Peclet, Reynolds numbers
  • Charge transfer vs. mass transfer limitation on electrodeposition
  • Basics of deposition uniformity and surface roughness development and dendrites
  • Predicting Electrodeposition Profiles by Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
  • FEA basics
  • Introduction to Elmer
  • Geometry import and mesh generation
  • Entering basic parameters, multi-physics equations, materials, initial and boundary conditions
  • Post-processing results
  • Application to electrodeposition
  • Hands-on application to attendee problems
  • Fundamentals of Electrodeposition
  • Concentration of sulfide minerals and upgrading of laterite ores
  • Production of ferro-nickel and matte from laterites
  • Sulfide smelting and converting
  • Laterite pressure leaching and precipitation of intermediates
  • Extractive metallurgy of cobalt from primary sources
  • Re-leaching and solution purification
  • Nickel recovery by electrowinning, hydrogen reduction, and carbonyl processing
  • Recycling of nickel and cobalt

The target audience is engineers in roles of process design and development related to electrodeposition in molten salts, aqueous electrowinning or electrorefining, or electroplating for electrical, corrosion, wear or tribology. Attendees will gain an understanding of transport phenomena in these processes, as well as important tools for process design and troubleshooting as outlined above. Whether the goal is uniformity, high deposition rate, or avoiding or promoting roughness and dendrites, this course will help engineers to design electrode arrangements and flow conditions which promote those goals.


Adam C. Powell, IV is CTO and Co-Founder of Metal Oxygen Separation Technologies, Inc. (MOxST, pronounced "most"), where he oversees the company's IP portfolio and R&D activities. MOxST is an early-stage company focusing on Clean Metal Production for Clean Energy, more specifically scale up of new technologies for primary production and recycling of metals. The company is currently working on commercializing zero-emissions high-efficiency processes for production of magnesium and neodymium metals from their oxides.

Powell's technical background is in materials science with a focus on process technology, including applications in electrochemistry, metal processing, polymer membranes, mechanical behavior of materials, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, physical vapor deposition, computer modeling, and high-performance computing. He holds dual S.B. degrees in Economics and Materials Science and Engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering also from MIT. His engineering work in industry, government and academia has led to breakthroughs from mathematical modeling of phase transformations with fluid-structure interactions to titanium alloy composition control in an electron beam melting pilot plant. His nearly sixty technical publications, half of which are in refereed journals, cover the topics above as well as tribology, engineering pedagogy, materials informatics, and collaborative development of public knowledge resources.

He is the author of nine open source computer programs for R&D and education, and is a Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer overseeing development of a suite of high-performance scientific software packages, including the Elmer suite. Before co-founding MOxST, Powell was the Principal of Opennovation, and before that a Managing Engineer at Veryst Engineering LLC. Prior to joining Veryst, he was on the faculty of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Powell remains an Instructor at Boston University and a Foreign Cooperative Researcher at the University of Tokyo. He is a co-author of the National Academies study on Integrated Computational Materials Engineering, and is on the Editorial Board of The Open Mineral Processing Journal.